Two Perspectives on the Passing of an Atheist

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I have included two perspectives on the death of the famous atheist Christopher Hitchens this week.

The first is found in today's News to Note on the AiG website written by  Mark Looy of our ministry.

The second is by AiG friend Doug Philips of Vision Forum.

The Passing of a Well-Known Atheist By Mark Looy www.NYTimes.com/2011/12/16/arts/christopher-hitchens-is-dead-at-62-obituary.html

An atheist of many striking contradictions and ironies passed away on Thursday. Christopher Hitchens, the acerbic author of God is not Great—How Religion Poisons Everything, was known as one of the “new angry atheists.”* His public lectures/debates, frequent appearances on TV, and countless articles and books gave him a large following even beyond the intelligentsia. He died of cancer-related causes at the age of 62.

At one moment, Hitchens could use his considerable wit and mastery of the English language to skewer politicians (e.g., President Bill Clinton) and religious leaders (Mother Teresa, even), and at another moment, he could use his tongue to be disarmingly polite and charming. It’s the latter that was on display when he toured the Creation Museum in 2010**; his celebrated caustic side seemed to be more on display when he had an audience to play to.

As a young man, Hitchens was a radical socialist. Through the influence of the writings of George Orwell and others, Hitchens’ youthful exuberance for leftist beliefs moderated over time and he came to distrust big government. Hitchens even backed a Republican president’s war in Iraq this past decade, although his support of President Bush’s action was motivated more by his antipathy towards the Abrahamic monotheistic religions than anything, in this case extremist Islam in the Middle East.*** He was not easily pigeonholed in other ways. Hitchens’ unpredictability was manifested when he became one of the rare secular humanists who believed that human life begins at conception. Additionally, there were surprises within his family: his brother Peter is a well-known Christian writer in England, and one parent was a Christian and the other had a Jewish heritage. Also, we note with irony that Christ was in this atheist’s name, for Christopher means “Christ-bearer.”

Hitchens was largely unashamed of his licentious life, unrepentant even in his final months (e.g., when interviewed for a Charlie Rose PBS-TV program). His “wild side” somewhat lessened his reputation as an intellectual. Nevertheless, his considerable intellect and language skills garnered many opportunities for him to challenge what he considered to be stupid (such as biblical creation) and nefarious (especially Christianity and Islam). While Hitchens often marched to the beat of his own drummer and could confound friends with his unexpected views, one thing did not moderate in his life: he was in an ongoing crusade against the “evils” of the three major monotheistic religions. But without an absolute standard other than a trust in his own reasoning, it was still merely his opinion when he issued his moral pronouncements, including what he determined was evil.

As we have written many times on this website, the Bible tells us that God is the Creator of everything and, therefore, all things belong to Him; thus He is the One to define absolute standards of behavior, which He has written down in His Bible. Atheists may label actions as good or evil, but in their meaningless, purposeless, and evolution-formed universe, they do not have an ultimate foundation for defining what is good and evil. But God’s Word does.

Furthermore, God gave us the answer in the Bible as to why there are diseases like the cancer that struck Hitchens and the death it can cause (as taught in Genesis 3; see the PDF of our booklet Why Is There Death and Suffering), but He also offered a solution: eternal life through Christ.

The use of logic and language (Hitchens mastered the latter) only makes sense in an ordered universe made by the omnipotent God who created everything. Furthermore, the apostle Paul taught that people are without excuse if they reject a belief in God, for they “suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse, because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools . . . .”

Hitchens is no longer shaking a fist at his Creator. The ultimate and saddest contradiction of his life (unless we become aware of a deathbed conversion) was that at the end, he repudiated God’s Word and God himself.

*Hitchens preferred the word “antitheist.” ** Hitchens’ visit to the Creation Museum, which occurred just a few months before he was diagnosed with cancer, was chronicled in Ken Ham’s blog at: blogs.answersingenesis.org/blogs/ken-ham/2010/03/26/surprise-museum-visitor/ *** In yet another irony, Hitchens' life ended on the very day the Iraq war concluded, as a flag-lowering ceremony in Baghdad on Thursday signaled the end of the conflict for U.S. troops.

2. How Should Christians Respond to the Life and Now the Death of Anti-Christian Polemicists Christopher Hitchens? By Doug Phillips, President Vision Forum Ministries

He was probably the most famous anti-Christian of the last decade — a man who made his living scoffing at God and encouraging others to do the same. But now Vanity Fair writer and author of God is Not Great, Christopher Hitchens, is dead at the age of 62. He will be remembered by most for his sarcasm, biting wit, and 'indefatigable energy and venomous glee” in the cause of atheism and various contrarian agendas.

How should Christians respond to the life and death of one of our most capable public adversaries?

  1. We should remember that despite the perception many had of his brilliance in the cause of Atheism, Hitchens never escaped the reality of the knowledge of the existence of God.In the death of Hitchens we see the horror of the sin of pride in the face of God’s authority and man’s mortality.When God created the world, He created it very good.[1] There was neither suffering, nor death. All this changed when man — created in the image of God and the very pinnacle of creation — broke the law of God and plunged himself, his progeny and the world itself into a state of death.[2] In His mercy, God not only sent an eternal solution to the problem of death,[3] but He created man and the universe such that each of his billions of human creations over the span of history would have the clear and unequivocal witness of God upon their conscience such that they were without excuse.[4]Hitchens’ own battle with cancer was a reminder of this inescapable witness. It was also a reminder of the authority of God over man. It was a call to humility. Certainly Hitchens had opportunities to be humble — family members and adversaries appealed to him in the name of Christ, but his response was to be resolute in his autonomy and mockery of Christ. As his body was decaying and death was looming over the horizon, he continued to reject the God who made him and to publicly minimize the prayers offered on his behalf by others.The spiritual lostness of Christopher Hitchens was not for want of evidence or logical argument — he had all the evidence and witness and logic in the universe available to him. It was staring him in the eyes, but he irrationally loved his decaying mind and body, more than the witness of the eternal God.
  2. We should observe that despite his brilliance, Hitchens was what the Bible describes as a fool.When I describe Christopher Hitchens as a “fool” I am not mocking or ridiculing him. I am using the very precise and inescapable language of Scripture which declares that” “the fool has said in his heart there is no God.”[5] Only fools deny what is clear because it has been revealed in creation, in their hearts and in the testimony of Scripture. Fools can be brilliant. They can have numerous degrees and diplomas. But all who say in their heart — “there is no God” are fools. Which is why December 15, 2011 marks the death of one of the most outspoken and notorious “fools” of our lifetime.
I urge you to read the rest of Doug's article at www.visionforum.com/news/blogs/doug/2011/12/9814/

Thanks for stopping by and thanks for praying,

Ken

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